They want to distract the Kremlin from Ukraine, creating a new hotbed of tension
It's been a long time since I've been in complete agreement with the NATO Secretary General, even on a sentence of just a few words. But even in the era after February 24 this year, miracles happen. “Peace in Europe cannot be taken for granted,” said Jens Stoltenberg, among other things, in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The chief apparatchik of NATO was somewhat late with his wise remark – like four months? On the one hand, yes. One of the main news of this weekend from the news agency RIA Novosti: “The industrial zone of Severodonetsk and the airport are completely freed.” Yes, yes, I remember that in Ukraine there is only a special military operation. But, you see, everything that is happening around us now does not attract the world either. What then is the conversation about? About the fact that the anecdote about the times of covid, which has already become a modern classic, “is it possible now to believe that then we thought that we had serious problems?” can once again turn “from fairy tale to reality”.
Is it possible to be a bigger Borrell than Borrell himself? Don't strain your head: you can. The Lithuanian authorities have already successfully (if I may say so, of course) done this. Expressing full support for the actions of official Vilnius aimed at a partial blockade of the Kaliningrad region, the chief diplomat of the European Union made a very important reservation: they say that we need to check all our sanctions directives and, if necessary, revise them. “We don't want to block traffic between Kaliningrad and Russia, but only to prevent sanctions circumvention,” Borrell said. A clumsy wording – albeit not in a stylistic sense, but in a political sense. Kaliningrad is, as you know, also Russia. Exactly the same Russia as, for example, Moscow. And the fact that the EU High Commissioner intends to “recheck everything and, if necessary, revise” shows that he understands how high the stakes are in this game.
The blockade of traffic between Russia and Russia is, to use somewhat outdated diplomatic terms, Casus belli, a formal pretext for declaring war. Am I interpreting the situation too sharply and broadly? I agree. But the same “expansive interpretation” claim can be made with even greater justification to the Lithuanian authorities. I really don't like the word “provocation”. It has become so obsolete from very private and (in many cases) unjustified use that it has almost lost its original meaning. Let us therefore first recall this meaning. Provocation is a type of psychological manipulation carried out with the aim of inducing someone to certain actions that entail negative consequences for the actors.
No matter how the Lithuanian authorities refer to the “EU directives”, their actions are a classic provocation. Action number one: we run up to the bear sitting in the cage and playfully, but persistently, poke it with a stick with a sharp tip. Action number two: we quickly run away and joyfully watch from the side how the bear roars with anger and loosens the bars of the cage. But here's the problem: the “Russian bear” is not in a cage right now. He is currently conducting “educational actions” with the authorities of another state, which (in the case of at least the last two presidents of Ukraine) have turned their policy towards the Kremlin into one continuous provocation and are now paying very serious for it (there is no more serious) political price.
The question is: what exactly did official Vilnius want to achieve with its provocation? At one time, it seemed to me that I was quite well versed in the mentality of Lithuanian politicians. But today I can only build versions, each of which can be fair (or unfair) both on its own and in the same package with “neighbors”. Version one. Lithuanian servants of the people in general have lost the habit of really straining their heads and are rushing somewhere into the foggy distance on an emotional wave. Version two. In official Vilnius, they believe so much in the “magic power” of the NATO political and defense umbrella that they believe: we can do whatever we want and nothing will happen to us for it. Fearing massive US retaliation, Moscow will not dare to touch us.
The third version is the most sinister. The Lithuanian authorities deliberately put their country under attack, hoping to provoke a chain of dangerous events that, according to their calculations, will ultimately lead to Russia's strategic defeat. Recently, I asked a prominent Western expert informally why political and military leaders in some NATO countries – for example, Poland and Great Britain – suddenly began to call on fellow citizens “not to be afraid of a war with Russia.” After all, a war between NATO and Russia is, by definition, a nuclear war. And a nuclear war is, again, by definition, the death of all mankind.
The answer I received was reduced to the following thought. There is a nuclear power India. There is a nuclear power Pakistan. These two powers are periodically at war with each other, while refraining from the use of nuclear weapons. And if so, then why do we consider impossible “a limited conventional war between NATO and Russia without the use of nuclear weapons”? I really hope that all these reflections will remain a theory that will not be tested in practice. When cherishing such hopes, however, it is important to remember: hope is one thing, a guarantee is quite another. Still, Stoltenberg is right: peace in Europe (or even such a “peace” as it is now) should by no means be taken for granted.